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Styled Components vs. Tailwind CSS: Finding the Perfect Style for Your React Project

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Kesar Bhimani

August 9, 2023

Kesar Bhimani

August 9, 2023

In this blog, I'll be sharing my insights on Styled Components and Tailwind CSS. We'll explore their features, how to set them up, and when to use each one. I'll also provide examples of how to create a variety of components using these libraries.

Importance of CSS in JS Libraries

CSS in JS libraries has revolutionized the way we style our React Native applications. They allow us to write CSS directly within our JavaScript code, making it easier to manage styles and reducing the risk of conflicts. With CSS in JS, we can create components that are truly reusable and encapsulated.

Introduction to Styled Components

Styled Components is a CSS in JS library that leverages tagged template literals in JavaScript and the power of CSS. Using Styled Components, we can write actual CSS code to style our components. It also supports automatic critical CSS, and server-side rendering, and has a thriving community.

Here's an example of how to create a button using Styled Components:

Introduction to Tailwind CSS

On the other hand, Tailwind CSS is a utility-first CSS framework. Instead of writing CSS, you apply pre-existing classes directly in your HTML (or JSX, in the case of React Native). This can significantly speed up the development process, especially for complex interfaces.

Here's an example of how to create a similar button using Tailwind CSS:

Throughout this blog, I'll be comparing these two libraries in detail, helping you decide which one is the best fit for your next React Native project. So, let's get started!

Understanding Styled Components

What are Styled Components?

Styled Components is a CSS-in-JS framework that allows developers to create CSS code within JavaScript. Many developers like this package since it allows them to create reusable components with encapsulated styles.

Key Features of Styled Components

One of the key features of Styled Components is the ability to pass props to your styled components, allowing for dynamic styling based on component state or props.

How to Set Up and Use Styled Components

Setting up Styled Components in your React Native project is straightforward. First, you need to install the library using npm or yarn.


Once installed, you can import it into your file and start creating styled components.

Advantages of Using Styled Components

There are several advantages to using Styled Components in your projects. Some of these include:

  • Scoped Styles: With Styled Components, the CSS is scoped to the component, preventing styles from leaking to other parts of your application.
  • Dynamic Styling: Styled Components allows for dynamic styling based on props, leading to more reusable and flexible components.
  • Theming Support: Styled Components has built-in theming support, making it easy to share values like colors and fonts across your application.

Disadvantages of Using Styled Components

Despite its many advantages, there are a few drawbacks to using Styled Components:

  • Learning Curve: If you're new to CSS-in-JS or JavaScript template literals, there can be a learning curve to understanding how to use Styled Components effectively.
  • Performance: While generally not an issue for smaller applications, for larger applications with many components, the runtime cost of parsing and injecting styles can add up.

When to Use Styled Components

Styled Components is an excellent choice for projects where you want to leverage the power of JavaScript to create dynamic, reusable components with encapsulated styles. It's also a good choice if you want to share theme values across your application or if you're dealing with server-side rendering.

Understanding Tailwind CSS

What is Tailwind CSS?

Tailwind CSS is a utility-first CSS framework that is rapidly gaining popularity in the development community. Unlike traditional CSS frameworks that provide ready-made components, Tailwind allows you to build custom designs by applying utility classes directly in your HTML or JSX.

Key Features of Tailwind CSS

Tailwind CSS comes with a set of pre-defined classes for every CSS property, allowing for rapid prototyping without leaving your HTML or JSX. It also provides responsive variants for different screen sizes, and allows for customizations through its configuration file.

How to Set Up and Use Tailwind CSS

Setting up Tailwind CSS involves a few more steps compared to Styled Components. First, you need to install it via npm or yarn.


Next, you need to create a configuration file using the Tailwind CLI.

This will create a tailwind.config.js file in your project root. You can customize your design system (colors, spacing, fonts, etc.) in this file.

Finally, you need to include Tailwind in your CSS.

Advantages of Using Tailwind CSS

Tailwind CSS offers several advantages:

  • Rapid Prototyping: With utility classes for every CSS property, you can build complex designs without leaving your HTML or JSX.
  • Customizable: Tailwind CSS is highly customizable through its configuration file.
  • Responsive Design: Tailwind provides responsive variants out of the box, making it easy to build responsive layouts.

Disadvantages of Using Tailwind CSS

However, Tailwind CSS is not without its drawbacks:

  • Verbose Syntax: The utility-first approach can lead to verbose and hard-to-read class strings.
  • Learning Curve: Tailwind has a different approach to styling that might take some time to get used to, especially if you're coming from traditional CSS or a CSS-in-JS library.

When to Use Tailwind CSS

Tailwind CSS is a great choice if you value complete control over your design and prefer to style your components directly in your HTML or JSX. It's also a good choice if you're building a responsive web application and want a CSS framework that supports responsive design out of the box.

Deep Dive into Styled Components

Understanding the Styled Components API

The Styled Components library provides a simple yet powerful API. The primary function is the styled function, which you can use to create a new styled component.

Exploring the Theming Capabilities

One of the standout features of Styled Components is its theming capabilities. By wrapping your application in a ThemeProvider component, you can define a theme object and then access these values in your styled components.

Styled Components and Server-Side Rendering

Styled Components supports server-side rendering out of the box. This means that your styles are calculated on the server and sent to the browser, resulting in faster load times and a better user experience.

Performance Considerations with Styled Components

While Styled Components is generally performant, it's important to be aware of potential performance issues. For instance, defining styled components inside a render method can lead to unnecessary re-renders and hurt performance.

Deep Dive into Tailwind CSS

Understanding the Tailwind CSS API

Tailwind CSS provides a set of utility classes that map to various CSS properties. You can apply these classes directly in your HTML or JSX to style your components.

Exploring the Utility-First Concept

The utility-first concept is a core principle of Tailwind CSS. Instead of writing custom CSS, you use utility classes to construct your components. This approach can lead to more consistent designs and faster development times.

Tailwind CSS and Responsive Design

Tailwind CSS provides responsive variants of all its utility classes out of the box. You can easily create responsive designs by prefixing your utility classes with the appropriate breakpoint.

Performance Considerations with Tailwind CSS

While Tailwind CSS can generate a large CSS file due to its numerous utility classes, it provides a purge option in its configuration file. By specifying the paths to your components, Tailwind CSS will remove any unused styles in the production build, resulting in a much smaller CSS file.

Comparing Styled Components and Tailwind CSS

Setup and Configuration

Setting up both Styled Components and Tailwind CSS is relatively straightforward, but they do have their differences. Styled Components requires less configuration and can be used right after installation. Tailwind CSS, on the other hand, requires a configuration file to customize its default theme, but this also means it offers more customization options out of the box.

Theming Capabilities

Both libraries support theming, but in different ways. Styled Components allows you to define a theme and access its values within your styled components using a ThemeProvider. Tailwind CSS, on the other hand, allows you to customize its default theme in the configuration file, and you can apply these values using utility classes.


Performance can vary based on the size and complexity of your application. Styled Components might be slower for larger applications due to the runtime cost of parsing and injecting styles. Tailwind CSS generates a large CSS file, but unused styles can be purged in the production build, resulting in a smaller file size.

Community and Support

Both libraries have strong communities and are well-documented, making it easy to find help when you encounter issues. They are both actively maintained and have a large number of contributors.

Learning Curve

The learning curve can depend on your familiarity with CSS and JavaScript. Styled Components might be easier to pick up if you're comfortable with JavaScript and CSS-in-JS. Tailwind CSS could be more intuitive if you're coming from a traditional CSS background, but its utility-first approach might take some time to get used to.

Making the Choice

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Styled Components and Tailwind CSS

When it comes to choosing between Styled Components and Tailwind CSS, several factors come into play:

  • Project Requirements: Consider the specific needs of your project. If you require a lot of dynamic styling based on props, Styled Components might be the better choice. If you need to prototype quickly or prefer utility-first styling, Tailwind CSS could be more suitable.
  • Team Familiarity: The familiarity and comfort level of your team with each library is also a crucial factor. A steep learning curve can slow down development, especially in the early stages of a project.
  • Performance: For larger applications, performance can be a concern. Consider the potential impact of the runtime cost of Styled Components versus the larger file size of Tailwind CSS (before purging unused styles).

Which One Should You Choose for Your Project?

There's no definitive answer to this question as it largely depends on your specific use case. Both libraries have their strengths and can be the right tool for the job in different scenarios.

Styled Components might be a better fit if you're building a large application with many reusable components, need dynamic styling based on props, or if you're working with server-side rendering.

Tailwind CSS could be the right choice if you're building a custom-designed website, need to prototype quickly, or prefer a utility-first approach to styling.

Elevating Your React Apps with Styled Components, Tailwind CSS, and the Power of WiseGPT

In this comprehensive exploration of Styled Components and Tailwind CSS, we've dissected their unique features, setup processes, and use cases. We've also compared them side by side, helping you understand their strengths and weaknesses.

Both Styled Components and Tailwind CSS have their unique advantages. Styled Components is a powerful tool when you need dynamic, reusable components with encapsulated styles. Tailwind CSS shines when you need complete control over your design and prefer to style your components directly in your HTML or JSX.

The choice between Styled Components and Tailwind CSS boils down to your specific needs and preferences. The right tool is the one that not only meets your project's requirements but also complements your workflow and enhances your productivity.

As we conclude our discussion on "Styled Components vs. Tailwind CSS", it's important to remember that the tools we use are just one piece of the puzzle.

For instance, when working on a React project, while libraries like Styled Components and Tailwind CSS can help with styling, there are other aspects like handling API requests and managing state that can also significantly impact your productivity.

This is where tools like WiseGPT, a plugin developed by DhiWise, can come in handy. WiseGPT seamlessly generates code for APIs into your React project, eliminating the need for manual API requests, response parsing, and error management strategies for complicated API endpoints.

Just like how Styled Components and Tailwind CSS can help you find the perfect style for your React project, WiseGPT can help streamline your workflow by automating some of the more tedious aspects of React development.

Give it a try and experience firsthand how it can revolutionize your React development process.

Happy coding!

Frequently asked questions

How do Styled Components and Tailwind CSS differ in terms of performance and bundle size?

Styled Components generates inline styles in the final output, which can lead to larger bundle sizes compared to Tailwind CSS, especially in larger projects. However, with proper server-side rendering (SSR) and code-splitting techniques, the impact can be mitigated. On the other hand, Tailwind CSS relies on utility classes, resulting in a larger overall CSS file. The introduction of JIT mode in Tailwind CSS version 2.0 significantly improves performance by purging unused styles, leading to smaller production bundles. Therefore, the performance trade-offs between the two solutions heavily depend on the project's size and requirements.

How does the theming approach differ between Styled Components and Tailwind CSS?

Styled Components allows dynamic theming by leveraging props and the ThemeProvider. Developers can create sophisticated theming solutions by passing theme-related constants down the component tree. On the other hand, Tailwind CSS provides theming through the configuration file, enabling customization of default utility classes. By extending the theme object, developers can add or modify color palettes, typography, spacing, and more. Tailwind CSS's theming approach is more static, whereas Styled Components' theming is more dynamic and allows for granular control over individual components.

Can you explain the performance impact of using dynamic props with Styled Components and utility classes with Tailwind CSS?

Styled Components' dynamic props allow for conditional rendering of styles based on component props. While this provides flexibility, it can lead to larger bundle sizes as the styles are generated inline. Developers should be cautious when using a high number of dynamic props to avoid bloating the output. On the other hand, Tailwind CSS's utility classes are generated statically, resulting in a larger CSS file. However, with JIT mode enabled, unused utility classes are purged, resulting in a more optimized production bundle. It's essential to strike a balance between dynamic styling needs and the final bundle size to achieve optimal performance in both solutions.

Frequently asked questions

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